Punk rock bluegrass is not something you see very often. Whiskey Shivers, a band based in Austin, Tex., shakes off the restraints of traditional bluegrass and redefines it for a new generation. The five-piece band makes music that front man Bobby Fitzgerald calls “trashgrass.”
“It’s bluegrass, but not technically,” he said. “It’s a little trashier, a little dirtier and a little more raw.”
The five members come from all over the country, including upstate New York, central Oregon, Kentucky and, of course, Texas. Each brought a different taste in music to create a mixture of rock and roll, punk rock, heavy metal and bluegrass.
The band – named after the feeling you get after a shot of whiskey – came together around five years ago in Austin.
“We just happened to meet down there, we were there to make some music and coincidentally met each other,” said Fitzgerald. “We’ve just been playing together ever since.”
The happy-go-lucky vibe of the group seems to contrast with the pain and hardship conveyed in the lyrics it writes. With just the right balance of rock and bluegrass, Whiskey Shivers shows real strength and depth in their music.
Whiskey Shivers released a self-titled album in September, and the band members are spending the next few months touring. The band has been on the road more than they have been home this year.
While it is tough being away from home, Fitzgerald says the experiences are worth it.
“It is exciting, being on the road,” he said. “You get to go different places, meet great people, have such good experiences. We’re lucky to be able to do what we are.”
The front man and fiddler has more plans for the band, too.
“We’re going to try to start playing more music festivals, and we’re working on some music videos that should be done pretty soon. And always writing.”
A favorite song of Fitzgerald’s is off of the new self-titled album, and is called “Long Low Down.”
He says the song “showed up one day and made itself known. It just feels good to sing it, it feels good to play it. I’m happy with it.”
The track is more of a traditional song, with a steady strum of a guitar and the resonating plucking of a banjo. The vocals are soft and powerful, and something holds your interest even if you don’t quite know what.
The Whiskey Shivers are playing at The Ark in Ann Arbor this Tuesday, Oct. 21. Fitzgerald said people should come see them play so they can blow off some steam after a bad day or celebrate a good day.
“Either way, it’s going to be a party, and a lot of fun. We certainly hope so,” he said. “You can come out and just practice some friendship, that’s what is most important.”